Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Party in the USA...

I went from Medieval castles to a tropical paradise...
I live on the corner of "Surfsong Road" and "Ocean Green"
I play on the beach for hours at a time...
Only downside is that I kicked one of these in the ocean the other day...
First Jelly fish, now horseshoe crabs
I eat endless watermelon, and had a delicious hamburger with french fries last night...

It's good to be home

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Arrivederci Italia!

Dearest friends-

My last week in Italy was filled with oodles of fun that I simply must share with you!

Our last Saturday some of the gang decided to go back to Firenze (Florence) because we did not see everything we wanted to the first time! So this time around the agenda included:

1. Casa Bonarotti
2. Medici Chapels

These chapels officially became one of my favorite spots in Florence. The ceiling was simply awesome!
3. San Lorenzo Chapel and Library
4. the Barjello
5. Boboli Gardens
I felt like I was in Narnia... bliss!

That night we spent the night in Florence in a hostel. I finally had a true hostel experience- 7 beds in one room. That night was probably one of the longest nights of my life considering it was about 7,000 degrees in the room, but we couldn't open the windows because there was a party going on in the street below us until about 4 in the morning, celebrating the world cup. Needless to say I probably slept only 20 minutes the whole night!

(Our feet after a LONG day of adventure and mostly walking... )
But the next morning we had the awesome chance to got to district conference and listen to a broadcast for all of Europe in Italian! It was such a neat experience!

It was certainly fun to go, but nice to get back to little Siena!

The rest of the week passed all too QUICKLY!! I just didn't even know what to do with myself!! How was I suddenly walking down to the train station, spending the night at the Pisa airport (oh that airport and I will always have fond memories) and then in Paris flying back to America???

I must say that Italy was basically one big, long, amazing dream come to life!! I still have a few more posts left in me because I am not home yet so tune in for some more of my adventures later!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

so this is goodbye... or just ci vediamo

i am in paris getting ready to fly home... I am uber sad and excited at the same time... more later....

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Carroccio Gang!

Presenting... IL CARROCCIO!


My internship could not possibly be better! I love it so much and the people are my best friends! They give me presents, feed me, and are so patient with my horrible italian- I LOVE THEM!

me, Janean, Emmy, Bikash, and Mobeb

Renata wasn't in today... but I will get pictures so you can see her later! Oh and by the way... Tom Hanks has totally been to my restaurant! They have a picture with him hanging up!

Calcio? Anyone...

Screaming and Cheering until the wee hours of the morning...
Singing, honking horns- Yelling for Italia...
Being in Italy for the world cup...
Best thing ever!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Follonica e Monteriggioni- perfecto!

Well team,
The past few days have definitely been fun and adventure filled. I didn't have to work and Nielle was here so we did a lot of frolicking! BEST THING EVER!! On Monday I just showed Nielle around Siena. Tuesday, our group decided to hop on the train and go to


It is a teeny hilltop town. We got off at our train stop and actually had to hike up to the town. On the way we found another little surprise. We saw a sign that said Castello, which is castle in Italian. So we took a little detour up to this old castle. It was deserted, which of course made it ideal for exploring. I felt like I was in an Indiana Jones movie and we climbed in to the old house. We explored the various rooms, it looked a little war-torn- but of course it was completely safe :) Cajin found a window that we could climb out of to get to the outside wall. At this point I felt like Anne Shirley as she attempts to walk across the roof... Don't worry, I didn't fall so all is well!

After that adventure we continued on to Monteriggioni. The city was really cool and we climbed on top of the city walls to see some amazing views of the Tuscan Valley. It also started pouring rain here so we played in the rain and jumped in puddles... needless to say I was soaked! (Monteriggioni from a distance...)

At the Castello...
Wednesday we went to FOLLONICA-
beautiful beach town! White sandy beaches + clear blue water + sun shining= BEST DAY! We actually went to Follonica on Saturday and it was so amazing we just had to go back. We spent the day swimming in the warm water and playing in the sand. I'm sure the italians thought we were crazy since they pretty much go to the bea
ch just to tan, but we were loving life. We finished the day with Pizza and Gelato... Heaven!
Well I can't believe that my adventure will be ending so soon, But I am loving every minute of it!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Il mio restaurante e i miei amici!

Well team I decided that It is finally time that I blog about my internship!! It is so amazing and I absolutely love working at my restaurant...

Il Carroccio!

It is an awesome, small, but very classy and expensive restaurant just outside of the piazza. Let me take a minute to introduce you to my coworkers-


My boss and a native of Siena. She has had her restaurant for over 20 years. She is an amazing cook, and a little bit intimidating. I have a hard time understanding her Italian sometimes, so she just laughs at me, but I really love working and learning from her. OH, and she had purple highlights even though she is well over 50!


The head cook who is from Bangladesh. He is the one who makes all of Renata’s fabulous recipes. He is so nice and patient with me and always tells me exactly what he is make and what he puts into the recipes so I can recreate them- only he never measures anything (because he is just that good) so I’m not positive my attempts to recreate the food will be successful J


My best friend at the restaurant! Emmy is from Senegal and she speaks French, Italian, and English. She is the most patient with me and always helps me with my Italian! She fixes my mistakes and asks me to help her with my English. Emmy knows that I love to make desserts, so whenever someone orders a dessert, she lets me do it! I also help her with all the appetizers!


Our Brazilian Server! She is so fun and loves to dance and sing. But with her Portuguese accent and how fast she talks, sometimes I don’t understand her. But Emmy translates, so it’s all good!


The quite dishwasher from Bangladesh. He is such a hard worker, just takes orders from everyone and always cleans up my messes for me!

So that is the crew!! I love working there with all my heart! For the past few days the have had riposare (the verb to relax). Basically it means they close the store and take a little break. So I have just been frolicking with....


She flew all the way from Birmingham to frolic with me in Italia! BEST DAY!!!

pictures to come!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

By the sea... Oh how happy we will be...

Well my dear readers. I thought that I had officially been baffled beyond words and awed beyond imagination here in Italy- Yet some how Italy never fails to surprise me. Yesterday, I experienced the adventure of a lifetime and will now award “The most beautiful city in Italy award I have thus seen so far” to.... CINQUE TERRE!!!!

This group of 5 cities is built up along the Mediterranean Sea in Northern Italy.

Just take a look and prepare to witness bliss-

We took the train to the first city- Riomaggiore- and then began the beautiful hikes from city to city on the "Via del Amore" (the pathway of LOVE :). The second city was Manarola- SO BEAUTIFUL!!! - It truly is magnificent!
It was here that I had a bit of a fun experience... I don't know if you notice the rocks in the bottom right of the above picture, But they stick out into the ocean. Well of course our group had to be hardcore and go out on to the rocks. Everything was just dandy until the waves started getting really big. So we were hurry to get back to the side, and I took a little step on a very slippery rock... and I was a goner... into the ocean, clothes, backpack and all!! Of course it was hilarious and I couldn't breath because I was laughing so hard! I was totally fine with only minor cuts and bruises- and my dear friend Natalie sacrificed her dry clothes so I didn't have to hike in soaking wet ones! It was a fantastic way to start the day! Here is a picture post fall, nice and wet...
Well the hikes to the other cities were less eventful, and more beautiful with every step!! We hiked first to Corniglia, then on to Vernazza.

SO AMAZING!!!! The hike was uber steep, but so pretty it didn't even matter! Our last stop was Monterrosso, which we took the train to. When we walked out of the little station we saw this...

It was time for the BEACH!!! We had so much fun swimming in the BLUE water!! It was so clear!! But now it is time for hilarious story #2. So Kari, Sydnee, Jarom, and I were just out swimming about and having a fabulous time. Suddenly I kicked some and screamed!! It hurt and I said "I think I just kicked a jellyfish!!" We were just laughing and thought It couldn't possibly be a jellyfish! Well a few minutes later... Jarom yells, and then yells, and then yells... He got hit three times by the evil jellyfish, and His stings were HUGE!!!
Jarom was definitely masking his pain in this after shot because his arm was burning!! We had to go to the lifeguard and get some medicine. It was for sure an eventful trip to the sea!!

We finished the day with gelato and the 4 hour train ride home. All in All a day from heaven!!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

San Gimignano.... Bliss in a city...

This weekend we went to San Gimignano... So I know I have said this probably 20 other times, but this is one of the most beautiful cities I have ever seen. We spent the day hiking around, seeing the beautiful city, and the amazing views of Tuscany! Plus, we officially tried the most delicious gelato!! It has won the world championship of Gelato for about the past 4 years! Yeah thats right! IT WAS SUCH A FUN DAY!! I LOVED IT!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Rome if you want to...


This weekend was spent roamin' the streets of Rome!! It was amazing!!! There seriously are not words to describe that city. Basically you just HAVE to experience it! So we had 2 days to see Rome- most say it's impossible to see everything... I completely agree... but I was up for the challenge. I spent thursday planning exactly everything that I wanted to see and then mapped it all out. I knew I only had 2 days, but I was going to see as much as POSSIBLE!!

So here is what I saw...

1. The Trevi Fountain

2. The Colosseum
9,000 gladiators, 10,000 animals, 1,000's of spectators- battle to the death. IT was amazing-
a few fun facts:
the floor was made with wood and covered in sand to soak up the blood so the others wouldn't slip
the Colosseum could be flooded to recreate water battles
Giraffes, Rino's, tigers, lions, alligators, elephants, and more were brought into the area

3. The Vatican and Sistine Chapel

4. St. Peter's basilica

5. The Pantheon
6. the Spanish Stairs
7. the Roman Forum

I have to go for the moment, So I will complete my Rome trip later- BUT IT WAS SERIOUSLY UNREAL!!!!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

And then we went to Montepulciano...

Well last weekend we got to take at little trip on our own. Me and a my friends decided we would go explore Montepulciano- it is a beautiful hill top city in Italy. If you want to see a beautiful view of the Tuscan countryside... this is the place to go. Only I would recommend going on sunny day... not when it is raining the whole time. Another little perk of this lovely city- it was the location of the Italy scenes in the final moments of the one and only movie NEW MOON!! Yes!! Although the book is set in Volterra, the movie was filmed in Montepulciano. Since we were in the very location that edward and bella stood... we felt it was an absolute MUST to recreate the intense final seconds where bella must stop edward from stepping into the sun or else their eternal love will be lost forever....

First watch the real thing... You tube- bella saving edward

Next sit back, relax, and love every second of this blissful recreation...

Friday, May 14, 2010

Ode to Octopi....

HARKEN oh ye followers of this here blog....

I ATE OCTOPUS ON WEDNESDAY!!! Yes... il polipo...

please enjoy the following photos of my experience-

Needless to say it was quite the experience...
I was hoping there would be no difference,
that it would taste like other meat
if it was like chicken, It was sure to be a treat.
So I ate a whole little octopus,
I wasn't a wuss-
but I must say officially
non mi piacciono i popili!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Frolicking In Firenze-

Saturday May 8th I lived out my dream of visiting Florence (Firenze) Italy!! Lets just say that if I thought I knew what it was like to be completely awestruck before, after visiting I realized I didn’t have a clue!

We woke up early and hopped on a bus from Siena to Florence. The ride was especially beautiful as we were driving through the Tuscan countryside. When we got to Florence, I could barley pay attention to where I was going because I couldn’t help but look around! With hands on my purse and camera we set off following our group leaders (Professore e Sorella Boynton) into the city center.

We walked through the open market and I longed to stop and buy everything we passed! Purses, Leather books, Jackets, clothes, and Jewelry GALORE! We continued down the street and then rounded the corner and...

WOW!! There towering above my head was the Duomo. It was unreal.... Intricate sculptures and gold detail covering every inch of the huge building! I just stood there looking. We walked past the Duomo and continued to our first destination- The Uffizi- perhaps the most famous art museum in Florence. It features art from Michelangelo, Botticelli, Caravaggio, Rembrandt, and Leonardo di Vinci. Walking into that Museum was like stepping back in time. All the art was so amazing (I am going to run out of adjectives before I am done with this post because everything was so UNREAL!). We spent 2 hours walking through, looking at each piece but you could spend 10 hours and still need more time to really see everything!

After the Uffizi, next stop- The Accademia: Home of Michelangelo’s David. I walked through the first cou

ple rooms and looked at the art and some unfinished sculptures from the time. Based on the map I had looked at, it appeared that David would be at the end of the Museum. I walked into the next hall and... THERE IT WAS! It literally took my breath away; I was so surprised. And then we just stood there looking for so long because it is so amazing! The detail in the hands, the feet, and the muscles is truly magnificent. You can see the veins in David’s hands the muscles and tendons in his legs. What I kept thinking was how on earth could someone do this? It boggles my mind! We then finished walking through and saw even more sculptures- WOW, the time, talent, and work that it would take!

After such an experience we of course had to take a gelato break. Then it was on to Ponte Vecchio the old covered bridge in Florence. When you walk across the bridge, everything glitters. Why? Because Gold and Silver Jewelry Shops line both sides of the covered bridge. It is a beautiful br

idge and so old!

When we got to the other side of the bridge we decided to go to Piazzale Michelangelo. The Piazzale Michelanglo is a lookout point. We switch backed up a beautiful green hill and when we got to the top, this is what we saw...

BLISS, YES!!! I could have stayed up there for hours! Everywhere I looked it was so gorgeous!

The last hour was spent in the open Market where I purchase an Italia Jacket- A must have for all tourists. I knew I couldn’t leave Italy without one and I am so pleased!!

So Florence in a nutshell...

1. 1. Saw some of the most marvelous works of art in History

2. 2. Successfully evaded the gypsys

3. 3. Saw more nudity in one day than I have seen in my whole life

4. 4. Was completely AWESTRUCK! By the beautiful city...


So everyone, put it on your bucket list- See Florence and Michelangelo’s David before you die- It is an absolute MUST!


Friday, May 7, 2010

Formaggio anyone?

Although I have previously written about Italian food, once more the subject has arisen! I AM SURROUNDED BY THE MOST DELICIOUS FOOD EVER!! The past three days have been filled will food, food, cheese, and more FOOD! Obviously I am in heaven because I feel thateating has always been one of my greatest strengths. So Tuesday I had the amazing opportunity to eat dinner with the Torre Contrada. This is a really big deal! (I am going to do a separate post about the contrade of Siena so everyone will understand how important they are to the Sienese). Our whole group was starving and so we were ready this time- I was like “Bring on the food!” Our primo piatto was pasta, secondo piatto turkey, and for desert- Crostata! Wow it was all delicious!! Then Wednesday I had my first cooking class here at Dante Alighieri.

This was our menu...

Insalata caterina (salad)

Ravioli di ricotta e spinaci al pomodoro (spinach and ricotta cheese ravioli with tomato sauce which we hand made!)

Spezzatino toscano (veal with sauce) and Vedure alla griglia (grilled vegetables)

Panna cotta con frutti di bosco (cooked cream with berries)

And guess what? I learned how to make it all! My specialties were the pana cotta (I shall definitely make this when I get home because it i

s delicious) and I was quite good at helping put the dough through the pasta press- after a few slow attempts, our group became very efficient (Debs, you would be proud!). Yes, we hand made the ravioli- bellissima! After all our hard work we sat down and ate our 3 courses and dessert- bliss!

Yesterday, we once more had a food adventure! (I am sort of starting to feel like Julie from “Julie and Julia” since I’m blogging so much about food!) Our group got the chance to go to Gino Cucino’s cheese and salami shop. Gino is the “re del pecorino” (the king of pecorino cheese). The shop smell so good! We learned all about parmesan cheese and pecorino, Salami, and Balsamic vinegar. Here are some cheesey facts for you (pun intended!)

- When they make the cheese they store it for years at a time! We saw some cheese from 2004. At different ages the cheese has a different taste. The older the cheese, the stronger the taste and the harder the texture. The younger cheese is softer and has a lighter taster. (to my untrained taste buds, this is the one I liked).

- Although it may look like it is wax that covers the big cheese wheel, it’s not; It’s all cheese!! They use a little hammer to hit the cheese- based on the sound they know how hard or soft the cheese is.

- Gino also had a 30 year old balsamic vinegar- the older it gets the sweeter the taste, almost to the point of tasting like molasses or syrup. But if you want to buy vinegar that old be prepared to spend a pretty penny on it- a tiny bottle costs 30 euros!

We had such a fun time tasting the different cheeses at different ages and also the meat! It was so good- I sort of felt like I was in the movie Ratatouille (even though that is France J).

Tonight- Guess what we are doing? COOKING MORE FOOD!!! I can’t even wait!! I shall tell you how it goes later!

Ciao for now!